It was an eventful week for the Kannada film industry – Rahman was here, and Puneethh's book on his father was released

I am very selective about accepting invites to ‘Muhuraths' or any sort of filmi functions mainly because they never start on time. It's also a time for synthetic smiles, cardboard camaraderie and ennui inducing speeches. I could not refuse an early morning, personal invitation from Puneeth not because he's a superstar but the fact that he's never behaved like one. Also because his much awaited book about his illustrious father was being released. It was a pleasant gathering of people close to the family and those who helped with the production of the beautifully designed book. If Raj Kumar had been present he'd have preened at Puneeth's effort. The vast hall at the Taj Vivanta had a pleasing stage with pictures of a young Raj Kumar smiling. The greatness of Raj did not lay in his unbelievable success but the way he handled it. Anyone who met him came away beaming because he treated everyone like childhood chums.

The event began with Parvathamma Raj Kumar honouring three veterans who were very close to the thespian — P.B. Sreenivos, Ranganayakamma and Dattu. PBS recalled how Raj always welcomed him by stating that his ‘shaareera' (voice) had arrived. He sang a couple of lines from a song he'd composed in Raj's memory. Ranganayakamma broke down while narrating her personal equation with her ‘brother' while Dattu recalled an anecdote about how Raj could overwhelm anyone with his affection. The three were presented with a cheque for one lakh rupees and a citation. The Kannada and English versions of the book were released by Parvathamma who must have tried hard to swallow a lump in her throat. “After anchoring the ‘ crorepathi' show I've realised the importance of education. Every single rupee this book fetches will go towards education in Kannada. I wouldn't like to use the word help,” said Puneeth. Taking note of the worthy cause some individuals paid a small fortune to buy a single copy. Shivarajkumar who always wears his heart on his sleeve was eloquent in his praise for Puneeth. Prakruthi Banwasi who helped Puneeth in writing the book called everyone who'd performed the smallest chore in connection with the book and thanked them.

***

In sharp contrast was the hurriedly arranged audio release of the much awaited “Godfather' the same evening. The miniscule hall at a hotel was filled with people jostling for seats. The main reason for that was the presence of the ‘Mozart of Madras', Rahman, who's scored the music, in principle. I say that because while the tunes are old, only the lyrics are in Kannada. The VIP enclosure was full and extra sofas were hurriedly stuffed in. It was a case of musical sofas with people being shifted depending on their importance. Upendra and Sudeep took pride of place at the centre, but had to move when Dwarkish arrived. Dwarkish too shifted as Ambareesh and Sumalatha entered. Thankfully, a place was reserved for Rahman, beside the articulate Ramesh Arvind. The event started late and was long drawn out. “Rahman is performing namaaz. He'll arrive shortly,” whispered producer K. Manju in Rockline Venkatesh's ear.

Manju's ‘friendly enemy Munirathna' took the stage between dance performances and announced that it happened to be Manjus's wedding anniversary. Rahman entered to a standing ovation. Photographers were peeved as they were harried by bouncers as well as the producer. After a couple of songs were belted out by the talented Vijay Prakash, Shwetha Menon and Naresh Iyer, Ramesh stole the show with a succinct speech in praise of the Oscar winner. A grumpy Sudeep left midway probably imagining an insult. The show ended with Rahman being honoured with the ‘Mysore Peta' and a sandalwood garland. The music director who's affable to the extent of sounding inaudible murmured a few words in praise of Bangalore even as his Man Friday gesticulated wildly at Manju that it had better end now. Manju gave a triumphant smile.

sshivu@yahoo.com